Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday - it is VERY sunny!

Thank you Lord for another sunrise!
 So there wasn’t much to post about yesterday…no news is good news!!  We spent the day at and around the marina.  The walking trail led to the boat yard (boat yard = service area/fuel dock) so Charlie was ready to explore!  On the way we discovered a dredging operation and apparently they have been working on this project for quite some time.

The word is – the marina owner is dredging the basin, selling the sand & will use the proceeds to build more docks!  This is a very responsible business plan and a smart way to use the assets/materials on site to improve the livelihood of the marina.  Kudos!

Of course, every boy LOVES a sand pile…now if we only had a few Tonka trucks!!

My sweet husband just HAD to climb to the top!
While in the boat yard, we were able to walk through the boats “on the hard” (out of water), the marina allows boat owners to work on their own vessels if they choose.  We saw several men spending some time on Saturday morning working quite diligently.   I’m always interested in the story behind the boat name…this one has my level of creativity written all over it!!

Last night (Saturday) we ventured off the property for dinner at The Red Barn.  It did not disappoint!!  WOW!!! Salad, vegetable gumbo, grilled yellow fin tuna, wild rice….YUM!!  Charlie skipped the gumbo & had smoked ribs – just as tasty!  A family owned establishment, only open for dinner and totally worth it!!  If you are in Demopolis – it’s a MUST EAT!!  We didn’t dare order the blueberry cobbler for dessert – but no doubt it would have been just a tasty.  And just to be really is a barn!! Fun, Fun :-)

From left: Charlie, Cathy & Pat (Southern Cross), Dan & Melinda (Nora J) & Robin
Our driver/host was Dan & Melinda – former boat neighbors from Midway Marina in Fulton.  They are now living at Kingfisher Bay…small world!! It was great to see them…good times!!!

A great city park - right on the water!
Our Journey pulling out - heading south
After that great meal and brief tour of the town, Sunday morning was beckoning me to hit the pavement!  I was up early waiting to catch the sunrise & watching a line of boats departing for destinations south.  I wanted to attend church & someone else already reserved the car but I saw First Baptist Church of Demopolis on our town tour.  I checked the location/distance on my phone – 1.6 miles – no brainer!!  I headed out walking so I would have a realistic time frame for later when I walked to the 11:00 service…22 minutes!  YAY!!

Once I walked past the church, I had plenty of time to trot around the downtown area…and I got “turned around” (lost) in true Robin fashion.  I pulled out my phone and realized…I needed to turn around…and pick up the pace!  It was 8:30 & I needed to get showered, dressed and get back on foot to make the service…I get lost EVERY TIME I’m in a new town!  Oh well…

Back to the boat with plenty of time to spare, I asked Cathy from Southern Cross to join me because…when I saw Charlie he said the people with the car reservation were going to the Presbyterian Church – 2 blocks from the Baptist Church!!  Thank you Jesus!!  We had a ride and met some new friends!!  Double blessing!

The service was incredible…message in music & word and the NICEST folks!!  So warm and friendly…very welcoming!!  THANKS FBC Demopolis!!  You set the bar high for next week’s service attendance…where ever I may be – thanks for your prayers Addison and Libby!!

Back to the marina & boats are coming in at a steady pace…some folks we met at Joe Wheeler – it’s like a reunion!!  Looping Fun!!

Have a blessed Sunday!!

Friday, October 28, 2016

It's Friiiidaaay!!!

Sunrise at Windham Anchorage

Good Morning World and thank you Lord for another lovely day!! 

As previously mentioned, Friday was planned to be a l o n g travel day…and it was!  Anchor up at 7:14AM and I hopped off the boat in Demopolis AL at 4:36PM!  While that may not seem like a long day to most folks (a few months ago it was “normal” to me too) – it WAS!!

It's a long and winding road...
But the weather was fantastic and we only had one lock to clear – EASY!!  However, the barge traffic was in both directions and we had 5 other looper boats in our group. A BIG thank you and hats off to the tow captains for their clear communication and their super kindness!

I was driving this morning and as boat #4 in a line of 5, I simply had to listen to the radio chatter and follow the leader…or maybe not.  When meeting a barge, the tow captain determines how he wants you to meet – on the 1 (European driving rules) or on the 2 (USA driving rules).  Boat #1 spoke with the tow and was instructed to meet on the 1.  Yay!!!  

Of course the line of 5 boats spans a mile or so – so when I was meeting the barge there was a bend in the river to my port (left). Charlie showed up hearing all the chatter so he was able to speak with the tow.  As expected…I had to meet him on the 2!!  Cross the river in front of him to allow space for his load to make the turn. OK – I got this…putt, putt, putt at 8.5 mph I crossed the river channel , keeping the bow of our boat pointed directly at the front barge.  Once safely across, I turned slightly starboard (right) and proceeded south with plenty of depth…sounds complicated but it really wasn’t.  Sorry, no photo…in a moment of responsible thinking I kept my mind, eyes and hands on the monster in front of me!!

To show my appreciation, I radioed Capt. Earl Duvalle (I read the name on the tow) and thanked him for the easy pass.  He said, “Roger that, have a good one”.  I didn’t tell him my name wasn’t Roger…

Crazy, I don't even remember Capt. Anthony - but I guess I was there!
Big Eddie - he's a super great guy!  Favorite Story of the day!

My FAVORITE tow story of the day is about Big Eddie!!  He was southbound in front of us (the 5 looper boats) but we had several miles to the lock.  It’s protocol to not pass a barge unless they are at anchor but we were almost to an idle speed and gaining on him – and the other boats too.  So we requested permission to pass, he granted a “pass on the 2”.  Thanks Big Eddie!!

The closer we got to the lock we learned there was a barge already there & preparing to lock down. Commercial traffic has priority so….that would require us (all 5 boats) to wait for Big Eddie to catch up, load up in the lock, lock down, depart the lock chamber. The lock master would then have to “turn the chamber around” for us…about a 2 hour wait!  But wait…Big Eddie had the love of Jesus!!

He radioed the lock & told them to let us go down first, he would “hang out in the ch  God Bless Big Eddie – he made my day!!  I thanked him…and he thought my name was Roger, as well…go figure!
annel” until we were south.

The landscape throughout the Alabama portion of the Tenn-Tom has slight variations and evidence or human occupancy!  The river homes are sometimes full time residence and sometimes hunting/fishing camp dwellings.  A few for sale signs were spotted, but the angle of the sun made it difficult to get a reading.

Then we saw the LIMESTONE river banks!! WOW!!! Ever wonder where that white rock comes from in driveways, country roads, etc?  I think I found it!!  Incredible – this went on for miles and miles!

So to wrap up – because it’s been a LONG DAY – with the answer to the BIG QUESTION…

We left Columbus Marina on Wednesday at 7:30am my feet didn’t hit dry land until Friday at 4:36pm – you do the math, my brain is mush.  How did I cope?  GREAT…but I did dream about skiing in Colorado last night…and I did some “step ups” on the bow of the boat while locking through…and a 15 minute ab workout on the aft deck…and I cleaned bathrooms and dusted the boat this afternoon while Charlie drove.  See? No problem…LOL!!!

Tomorrow I will hit the walking trails and maybe get the bike off the boat for a spin around town.  But all in all…it was a GREAT DAY!!

God Bless! 
Exploration on Thursday! Hanging out with the nun!!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Relaxing Day at Windham Anchorage

Well after Wednesday’s less than a full day’s journey and we decided to stay an extra day at anchor – Windham Anchorage at mile marker 286 is quite pleasant, protected from the wind and provides a great view for river traffic.  So this morning we were greeted with fishing boats trolling to and fro.  Not a problem for us as they were friendly but probably thinking “what are these people doing with a boat this size and not fishing?” 
NOTE: There are no pictures of the fishing boats...just in case today was a "sick" day...just sayin'.

Around mid morning Charlie and I along with Pat and Cathy on Southern Cross lower our dinghy’s for a couple hours of exploration!  What FUN!!  We saw more fishing boats in the back water and a few looper boats when we ventured into the main river channel.

Cruising in our dingy "The Side Yard"

Pat & Cathy hanging out with a nun
It’s amazing what you can find along the river banks.  Like something named “Next Level Jugs” – a catfish float.  The most interesting discovery is the address of the maker…is a “down the road neighbor” to our daughter and her family! A “down the road neighbor” is someone you know in the community. I sent this picture to them and they confirmed…Mr. Fryery, your merchandise has been exported to Alabama!!  And we’ve seen a LOT of them – good for you!!

Next Level Jugs - perfect fishing equipment! Give 'em a call!
There weren’t a whole lot of photo ops since the river banks look the same and I tend to only travel with my phone packed in its own PFD (personal floatation device).  I’m trying to remember to take pictures with our actual camera – I promise once we frequent land again the quality of photos will improve!

Speaking of land…tomorrow we will pull up anchor around daybreak and head south the Demopolis.  It will be a long day (70 miles) but Pat & Cathy need to have a few odds and ends checked out on their boat.  They have an appointment for Monday, so we will be spending the weekend in Demopolis!!  Charlie & I will explore some of the sights and sounds and maybe learn a few factoids to pass along!!  

 We will be at Kingfisher Bay Marina in Demopolis Friday evening and then play it by ear…

Enjoy your own journey - life's an adventure, not a destination

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bye, Bye Columbus

Wednesday Sunrise over Columbus Marina

We were up bright & early this morning, ready to head south.  Note my rugged look – no lipstick OR earrings!! 

We had 6 boats leaving so it was a great group, we coordinated with the lock master and he had us in the lock by 8:00!!  GREAT JOB COREY!!

Our time spent at Columbus Marina was super!  Lots of family, friends and fun but I have to admit today was a great time to leave.  Beautiful weather, great cooperation on the river and the Alabama side of the river REALLY knows how to welcome travelers… as we past the Pickensville AL campground, folks were lined up and waving just watching the boats pass by – so friendly!!

Who ya gonna call??
Trust me, zoom in, there is a telephone phone booth on the river bank...

As expected we had some barge traffic but the tug captains were so nice and they communicated on the radio in a clear and concise manner – very professional!  

We had 2 locks to clear today, so once we came out of Columbus I took the helm and Charlie was down below working on a few small projects – something involving wiring, electronics, etc.  I past a barge – he was on the “shoulder of the river” working on the barges – he said, “The river is yours except for 140 feet” (that was his width & have NO idea how long).

And I met a barge…when he radioed and said “I can take you on the 1” I CHEERED!!  And Charlie came running!!  Everything was fine – I was just excited because I understood the language!!   Although probably not the safest move to snap a picture…kids, don’t try this at home.  By the way, “take you on the 1” means road rules of America – conversely, “take you on the 2” is the European driving method, at least that’s how I can keep it straight in my mind…it worked!  Thank goodness there isn’t a 3 or 4!

Once we cleared lock 2, Tom Bevill (for those tracking on a map), it was smooth cruising.  That’s when the boats started talking to each other about where we were going to anchor tonight – hence our planning session the night before.  We picked out 3 different anchorages toward the end of our travel day - this provided us options for various reasons - unexpected delays at the locks, feeling good & deciding to motor longer or stopping early so we can lower the dinghy and explore before dark!  And if all 6 boats picked the same anchorage – it could get crowded.

Our general rule of travel for a “good day”:   What you can do in your car in an hour, you can do in your boat in a day – emphasis on the word “general”.

By 3:26 PM we were at anchor & rafted to Southern Cross!!  A great travel day of 49.6 miles with enough daylight get off the boat and explore…in our dinghy (a smaller boat)!  We are here for tonight and perhaps tomorrow – it’s like a 5 star resort…4G with 3 bars of connectivity…kids would love it here!

If you are near Bobby Johnson Rd, Aliceville AL - swim by - we'll be here all night!

I am trying to incorporate the Great Loop route map on this blog but so far the links I’ve read to help me make no sense…I need a 9 year old to interpret!!  *grin* However, I am determined to get it done just hang in there with me – there is a learning curve!  So in the meantime I will sporadically throw out random questions that pop into my head or facts from locals who know what they are talking about…

Today is a random question – if the word “tug” means to pull, tow, haul then why does a “tug/tow boat” push the barges up or down the river?  Honestly, I don’t know????

These are the thoughts floating in my brain…for the next year…


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Columbus Day 2

Today we finished the long good-bye with family and friends in Columbus MS.  Now it feels like the journey begins, again.  Once again, we had a fun-filled day of seeing family, friends and other loopers...and mixed in 3 loads of laundry, mapped out the possible anchorages for tomorrow and Thursday, topped off the water tanks - just the usual stuff.

After the last hug was shared, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for your kindness, prayers and one cried!!  At least not in front of us...I know this journey is difficult to comprehend for some but I PROMISE we are as prepared as we can be...the rest is on the job training.  Thank you for your love!

I was able to catch a few pictures today of other boats waiting at the Columbus Lock & Dam.  I saw some boats at the fuel dock so it didn't take long to pull on my running shoes and head around the corner to the park overlooking the channel.

Way out there!! Heading South...

Side note:  Anyone traveling with kids (or adults with a lot of energy) will be happy to know there is a public park complete with swings, slides, basketball court, amphitheater, picnic tables and clean rest rooms just a quarter mile from the marina!  There is also 2 fishing piers on the dam side. Very nice and safe!  Leave the marina, turn right at the stop sign and the park entrance is straight ahead - wide road shoulder and asphalt - bike and foot friendly!!

The big question has been "Where is your next stop?"  Demopolis AL...on Friday!!  When we leave Columbus Marina Wednesday morning our plan is to anchor out for 2 nights and arrive in Demopolis on Friday...that's right, approximately 60 hours on the boat...feet won't hit solid ground for 2.5 days!!  Glad I got my exercise today! LOL!!

Here's a picture of The Lower Place dockside at Columbus Marina, the "stuff" in the water is lily pads.  The boat in the middle is Bright Angel.  They completed the loop last year, enjoyed it so much...they are still cruising!  Good for them!

God Bless, I'll catch you on the hook!

Monday, October 24, 2016

All the way to Columbus

Our morning started later than normal – we slept until 6:00!  We rested so well at anchor and had no firm schedule other than to be in Columbus “sometime on Monday”.  I was able to have a wonderful quiet time & watched the sunrise from the back deck…the quiet still water was only interrupted by the waking fish & singing birds.  This is the day…

Waverly Ferry Cut Off Anchorage
Later in the morning I discovered PIRATES!!  They were quietly paddling an inflatable dinghy then I heard them talking...closer, closer, closer...hey, I know THAT voice!!!  Charlie & Pat (captain of Southern Cross) were out taking pictures of our boats rafted together!! As promised, here's a few pictures of our handiwork...we were able to visit from boat to boat without getting wet!  Great neighbors!
Charlie and Pat paddling about, taking pictures...PIRATES!
 I had one foot on each boat when I snapped the Pirate picture - we were close!!
The Lower Place (fore) at anchor with Southern Cross

The Lower Place (back) at anchor with Southern Cross

The Lower Place

We pulled up anchor & traveled the vast distance of 20 minutes to the Columbus Marina!!  T and Red were fantastic to get us into a slip & hook up the power in record time!  And the day has been full – other loopers and family and friends!!  Lots of visitors & saying Good Bye, hugging and praying…it has been so incredibly nice to see everyone.  It’s like a come & go Bon Voyage party! So very special.

I had some special shopping time with my mother and just like a mom can do – she offered a new twist on Dominos…Tri-ominos.  I have no idea how many laughs this will bring but I can’t wait to get started.  It’s never too late to learn something new!!  Thanks Mom!!

A HUGH THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by today for a visit – I would list your names but some of you might have been on a “business appointment” so your secret is safe with me!  It was great to see everyone, you’re special to us in so many way.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers and we will do the same.

Much love,